Update, Dec 2007: I was wrong. CZ has chosen CC-by-sa. w00t! *champagne*
Citizendium looks likely to adopt a Creative Commons Non-Commercial licence, with the Citizendium Foundation having the power to license anything in it commercially to keep the organisation running. Larry Sanger says he hasn’t declared a view, but I think the question wording and his clarifications point pretty obviously. See also the forum thread.
If Citizendium takes its content non-free, it immediately becomes only as interesting as Scholarpedia, for the same reason. (And not to mention contributors who feel they’ve been deceived wanting their stuff back.) Free content, with analogy to free software, does not have usage restrictions. Dr Sanger attempts a reductio ad Hitlerum on the term “free,” but I suspect that’s not going to convince many outside Citizendium.
There’s a complete failure (in the CZ forum or blog threads) to acknowledge “commercial use” as meaning anything other than large corporations in the first world. But a non-profit running a large sales operation falls under “non-commercial”; an individual selling copies and covering costs while not operating under a governmental or non-profit corporate umbrella, however, is “commercial”.
(The GFDL is hardly that wonderful, and I’ve posted to the FSFE list that the one thing those of us contributing to the largest GFDL project in existence want is that a future version be completely compatible with a future CC-by-sa. That’s it. That’s what we want.)
Usage restrictions are fundamentally problematic. One of the reasons for making Wikipedia free content without usage restrictions is so that distribution of the content can be encouraged. Erik Möller has noted the problems with NC licences: “marking up regions of content as non-commercial and consistently following these boundaries is almost impossible in a collaborative environment.” Lawrence Lessig agrees he has a point there (though, of course, continues to support -NC for appropriate uses himself). Further from Möller:
Worse still are the effects that -NC licenses can have on people in the developing world, where entrepreneurship represents an opportunity to overcome poverty and the digital divide. People with basic access to freely licensed materials can redistribute them at a small profit using more traditional means such as photocopying or CD burning. In the absence of large scale government programs to broaden Internet access or distribute free content, market forces can play a clearly beneficial role in spreading free knowledge and free culture. Given cultural, language and access barriers, the common argument of -NC proponents that permitting commercial use on request is sufficient to allow for desirable uses, is at odds with reality.
Dr Sanger says he considers the free market useful, but doesn’t speak of commercial use in terms other than large first-world corporations. If that’s what Citizendium want to make sure they get paid for, they need a licence that says that and doesn’t have the collateral damage outside the first world that this approach will. Even those Citizendium contributors apparently driven by bitterness toward Wikipedia would surely have some reluctance to concede most of the world’s population for short-term gain.
Update 2: It’s in the Slashdot firehose, apparently adapted from this post. With a link here. INCOMING!!